The European Court of Justice ruled on March 14 that harsh property repossession laws in Spain, which have led to 400,000 evictions since the beginning of the country’s deep recession and crisis, are “abusive” and violate Directive 93/13 on consumer protection.

Activists said the decision could lead judges to halt thousands of bank foreclosure proceedings and experts believe that illegally evicted people may be eligible for compensation.

Last November, the Barcelona daily launched a campaign to ask for an end to the evictions.